I also saw POTA in its original run when I was 8. I liked it then and in ensuing years because it was monkeys with guns. Saw it again about 5 years ago for the first time in probably 25 years and was knocked over by how serious it was. Racism, segregation, science vs religion, lots of heavy themes set in a story that had plenty of action and moved very quickly without getting preachy. Fab script—god bless Rod Serling.
And, yeah, the Tim Burton version was a waste of money, despite a riveting performance by Tim Roth.